Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Brown Cooper, 7 September 1803

From Benjamin Brown Cooper

Coopers Ferry Gloucester County
N. Jersey Septr 7. 1803


A Letter has bin forwarded me from Eggharbour, requesting a Solicitation, (to you) for Joseph Whinner to the Office of Collector of the Port of Egg Harbour, in the room of A Freeling that has latterly taken to drink, this change will be highly recommendable in the neighbourhood of Egg Harbour and by the Republicans of the County at Large tho at this critical time in consiquence of the approaching ellection, It will be incumbent on you to dispence with any change til our Election is over, the Republicans of this County has bin divided for two years past, and a union is like to take Place, at the ensuing election—at which time the Republicans of Gloucester Cy. N.J. will triumph over Aristocrasy that has rain’d for five yearse in this Cy.

James Sloane and Dr Thomas Henry will write you relative to the above appointment tho highly necessary ought to be dispenced with for the present. the trivial office of a Collector is nothing to republicanising a State being the only one in the Union that Federalm. has regained

from your Obet Servt

Benjamin Brown Co[oper]

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); torn; at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson [Esqr]”; endorsed by TJ as received on 25 Sep. and so recorded in SJL with notation “Whinner v. Freeling”; also endorsed by TJ: “Whinner Joseph to be Collector Egg harbor vice A. Freeling besotted enquire of Doctr. Condit.”

Benjamin Brown Cooper (1779-1835), son of William and Ann Folwell Cooper, was born in Gloucester County, New Jersey. Revenue Supervisor James Linn appointed him excise officer for the county in 1801 and he became the first postmaster when a post office was established at Coopers Ferry (now Camden) in 1802. Established as a reputable farmer, Cooper also speculated in land. In 1805, political opponents claimed that he followed “no other occupation than riding about the country, speculating in land, and seeking offices for himself and associates.” He managed the New Jersey estates owned by the Penn and Pemberton families, and, in 1814, he purchased all of the lands still owned by the London-based West New Jersey Society. As an agent for the Holland Land Company, he purchased vast tracts in western Pennsylvania. At the time of his death, he still owned about 170,000 acres in the state. Cooper represented Gloucester County in the New Jersey state assembly in 1824 and 1825 (Journal of the Rutgers University Library, 17 [1953], 28-9; Stets, Postmasters description begins Robert J. Stets, Postmasters & Postoffices of the United States 1782-1811, Lake Oswego, Ore., 1994 description ends , 167; George R. Prowell, The History of Camden County, New Jersey [Philadelphia, 1886], 188, 738; Elizabethtown New-Jersey Journal, 4 Aug. 1801; Trenton True American, 26 Dec. 1803; Trenton Federalist, 30 Sep. 1805; Bridgeton, N.J., Washington Whig, 18 Dec. 1815, 29 Sep. 1817, 23 Oct. 1824).

Joseph Winner (whinner) replaced Alexander Freeland (freeling) as collector at Great Egg Harbor in March 1804. Freeland was appointed by John Adams in 1799 (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 , 1:326, 466).

triumph over aristocrasy: to promote unity and victory in the fall election, the Democratic Association of Gloucester County was organized in early 1803 with James Sloan as president and Thomas Hendry as vice president. In the fall election, Republicans won all of the state assembly seats in Gloucester County (Walter R. Fee, The Transition from Aristocracy to Democracy in New Jersey, 1789-1829 [Somerville, N.J., 1933], 133-7; Carl E. Prince, New Jersey’s Jeffersonian Republicans: The Genesis of an Early Party Machine, 1789-1817 [Chapel Hill, 1964], 93-4, 119-23; Trenton True American, 4 Apr. 1803).

only one in the union that federalm. has regained: for Republican losses in New Jersey in the 1802 fall election that led to a stalemate in the state legislature, see Vol. 38:605-6.

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