Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Seth Hunt, 15 April 1803

From Seth Hunt

Keene April 15th. 1803


It has been suggested to me that a Minister Plenipotentiary, is shortly to be appointed to succeed Mr King at the Court of St. James, should that appointment take place and a Secritary to the Embassy be required, I request the favour of beeing considered as a Candidate & should feel myself highly distinguished in beeing selected by the Executive for that sittuation—should I be found upon enquiry, to possess the requisite quallifications—For a particular Knowledge of my Character I beg leave to refer the President to my friends (at the seat of Govt) the Secty. at War, the Atty. Genl and the Post Master Genl—to all of whom I have this day written soliciting their interest with the President in obtaining for me the only place, in the gift of the administration for which I have at present the least desire—In making my present application, I feel myself peculiarly sittuated—I am a young man, without the popularity of a name—I stand politically alone, unaided by the influence of a long list of relatives & unsupported except it should be, by the interest of a few Political friends—My family Connections in Massachusetts & New Hampshire are numerous, respectable & influential—upon their friendship & support in the ordinary concerns of life, I can ever most confidently rely, but in my political relations, they are lost to me—they are as tho they did not exist, for they were the friends of the last administration and they are the opponents of the present—but permit me Sir, to hope that this circumstance, will opperate as no objection in the mind of the President, to the granting of my request.—My claims to Executive Patronage, rest solely upon my own merit (if I have any) they are founded in an ardent attachment to the Present Administration and in an early, faithfull and undeviating adhereance to Republican principles and Measures; in the worst of times and in opposition to the opinions and wishes of every relation—and I flatter myself that they will be found sufficient, to justify the President in granting my prayer—With the highest Esteem & veneration for the Presidents private & publick Character and a sincere and ardent devotion to the Goverment under his wise & happy administration—

I remain most Respectfully The Presidents very obt Servt

Seth Hunt

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); at head of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 22 Apr. and “to be Secy. of legation” and so recorded in SJL.

Seth Hunt (ca. 1780–1846), the son of Seth Hunt of Northampton, Massachusetts, became a minor, yet controversial, political figure in New Hampshire and the Louisiana Territory. A former law student and failed Boston trader, he enjoyed the political patronage of Gideon Granger and Henry Dearborn and became affiliated with the Political Observatory, a Republican newspaper established at Walpole, New Hampshire, in late 1803. His writings and efforts “to assist in revolutionizing the State” earned him the enmity of New England Federalists. In early 1804, TJ considered Hunt for a western appointment, which Albert Gallatin advised against after learning that Hunt was deemed so “obnoxious to all our southern friends” and to the eastern Federalists that he worried the Senate would never confirm him. Dearborn, however, supported Hunt, and TJ appointed him commandant of Ste. Genevieve district in Louisiana. Hunt’s tenure was short and turbulent, marked by his remarkably hostile relationship with Governor James Wilkinson that culminated in his arrest and removal from office by late 1805. He afterward engaged in a variety of business enterprises, including a trans-Atlantic dry goods venture with lead mine entrepreneur Moses Austin. He eventually returned to New Hampshire where he resided until his death (T. B. Wyman, Jr., Genealogy of the Name and Family of Hunt [Boston, 1862–63], 186, 193; Hanover, N.H., Dartmouth Gazette, 30 Mch. 1804; Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 13:204–18, 240–2, 290–7, 445–6; David B. Gracy II, Moses Austin, His Life [San Antonio, Tex., 1987], 99–102, 106–8, 122, 124, 128; Keene New-Hampshire Sentinel, 15 Apr. 1846; Gallatin to TJ, 11 May 1804; Dearborn to TJ, 1 June 1804).

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