Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James B. Richardson, 25 February 1803

To James B. Richardson

Washington. Feb. 25. 1803.


Having found it difficult to obtain here the names of gentlemen proper for the office of Commissioners of bankruptcy, and who are willing to accept it, and the non-acceptances & re-appointments at such a distance consuming much time, while the service is on sufferance, I take the liberty of inclosing four blank commissions which I ask the favor of you to fill up with the names of gentlemen whom you think proper for the office, & who shall have previously signified to you that they will accept. when filled up, I have still to request you to give me information of the names, that they may be entered in the records of the Secretary of State’s office. the interest which I am sure you feel in whatsoever relates to the state over which you preside, will apologize for the liberty I take in asking you to perform for me a duty which you can perform so much more advantageously for your state. I pray you to accept assurances of my high consideration & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); in ink at foot of text: “Governor Richardson.”

James Burchell Richardson (1770–1836), son of the Revolutionary War general Richard Richardson, was a South Carolina planter who lived at Big Home plantation in Clarendon District. He owned plantations and urban property throughout the state, including a summer residence with a course for horse racing in the Sand Hills. He had almost 400 slaves at the time of his death. Between 1792 and 1817, Richardson served seven terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives and four terms in the senate. The general assembly elected him governor in 1802. He served one term. In December 1812, he was elected director of the Bank of the State of South Carolina and he served as a trustee of South Carolina College (S.C. Biographical Directory, House of Representatives description begins J. S. R. Faunt, Walter B. Edgar, N. Louise Bailey, and others, eds., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Columbia, S.C., 1974-92, 5 vols. description ends , 4:475–6). For Richardson’s initiation of penal reform while governor, see John M. Bryan, “Robert Mills, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Thomas Jefferson and the South Carolina Penitentiary Project, 1806–1808,” in South Carolina Historical Magazine, 85 (1984), 2–3.

For the previous appointment of commissioners of bankruptcy in South Carolina, several of whom had declined or resigned the appointment, see Vol. 37:512–13, 706–7, 711. give me information of the names: a letter from Richardson to TJ of 2 Apr., recorded in SJL as received on the 17th with the notation “S,” has not been found, but on his list of appointments at 25 Feb., TJ recorded the names of South Carolina’s four new bankruptcy commissioners with the notation to see Governor Richardson’s answer of 2 Apr. TJ had sent the letter to the State Department, where the commissions for Simon McIntosh, William Lee, Jr., Guilliam Aertsen, and Francis Mulligan were recorded (list of commissions in DNA: RG 59, MPTPC; Appendix I: List of Appointments). On 5 Apr., William Moultrie, an earlier South Carolina appointee, wrote Madison and returned his commission noting, “as tis a business that requires much time and attention, it will be very inconvenient for me.” He recommended the appointment of John Webb in his place (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR, endorsed by TJ: “Moultrie Wm. to mr Madison. resigns as Commr bkrptcy Webb John recommended to succeed him”; Vol. 37:513n, 699). On the same day, Webb wrote Madison offering himself as a candidate to fill the vacancy (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “to be Commr. bkrptcy S. Carola.). For Webb’s previous applications and TJ’s hesitation to appoint him, see Vol. 37:450n, 706.

On 23 Sep. 1802, Mulligan informed Gallatin that Daniel Stevens, supervisor of the revenue in South Carolina, intended to resign. He applied for the position, noting his experience as collector of the revenue under the Direct Tax law. He referred to a previous letter of recommendation from Governor John Drayton and other respectable citizens of the state. Mulligan asserted that he was known for his efforts “in the cause of liberty, and republicanism, under many disadvantages” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “Mulligan Francis to be Supervisor of S.C. vice Stevens who means to resign”). Writing the Treasury secretary again on 17 Nov. 1802, Mulligan enclosed Stevens’s resignation. Noting that his service would always be marked by “Integrity, Zeal, and Fidelity,” Mulligan again applied for the position of supervisor (RC in same; endorsed by TJ: “Mulligan Francis to mr Gallatin to be Supervisor of S.C.”; TJ also questioned: “has Stevens resigned?” and is Mulligan “a republican & otherwise qualified & approved by mr Gallatin?”). TJ did not appoint an official replacement for Stevens (TJ to the Senate, 11 Jan., second letter, 2 Feb. 1803; Gallatin to TJ, 30 June 1803).

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