Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Beriah Palmer, Thomas Sammons, and David Thomas, with Jefferson’s Query, 4 November 1803

From Beriah Palmer, Thomas Sammons, and David Thomas, with Jefferson’s Query

Washington Novr. 4th. 1803


Although three Commissioners of Bankruptcy has been heretofore appointed in the city of Albany, state of New York; only one of those acts in that capacity, the others haveing accepted appointments under the state government incompatible with the duties of this office—Permit us therefore to recommend Sebastian Visscher and Elisha Dorr as suitable persons to fill these vacancies—

As we reside in the vicinity of Albany we are enabled to Judge of the propriety of these appointments, and do hope they will meet with your Excellencys approbation—

Beriah Palmer

Th. Sammons

David Thomas

[Query by TJ:]

Who are those who have disqualified?

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 11:0388-9); in Thomas’s hand, signed by all; at head of text: “To His Excellency The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 5 Nov. and “Visscher & Dorr to be Commrs. bkrptcy” and so recorded in SJL.

Born in Massachusetts, Beriah Palmer (1740-1812), a practicing attorney, settled in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, New York, in 1774. In 1791, he was appointed judge of the court of common pleas. He served several terms in the state assembly before his election to the Eighth Congress. Thomas Sammons (1762-1838), a farmer, lived on his homestead near Johnstown in Montgomery County, New York. Elected for the first time to the Eighth Congress, he served three more terms. Both congressmen were Revolutionary War veterans and both were delegates to the state constitutional convention in 1801. During the 1804 gubernatorial campaign, Palmer and Sammons questioned the assertion of Burrite Republicans that TJ “had expressed himself equally favorable” to the election of Burr or Morgan Lewis. The two New York congressmen met with TJ, who recalled that during the earlier meeting he had expressed regret at division “AMONG REAL REPUBLICANS” and noted that in that case the administration would remain neutral. TJ had clarified, however, that he did not consider the “Little Band,” that is, the friends of Burr, “AS MAKING ANY PART OF THE REAL REPUBLICAN INTEREST” (New York American Citizen, 10 Apr. 1804; Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, 2 vols. [Princeton, 1983], 2:852-3; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; Albany Centinel, 15 Sep. 1801; New York Republican Watch-Tower, 7 Apr. 1802). For Thomas’s position in the 1804 New York election and his previous recommendations for bankruptcy commissioners, see Vol. 39:629n. Upon their election to the Eighth Congress, DeWitt Clinton described Palmer, Sammons, and Thomas as “members of the Old republican party—In whom every reliance may be placed” (Vol. 37:516-7).

appointments under the state government: in early 1803, Abraham G. Lansing was appointed Treasurer of New York State. Nicholas Quackenbush resigned as bankruptcy commissioner after the New York Council of Appointment named him “First Judge” for the county of Albany. In April, the council appointed Abraham Ten Eyck, Quackenbush’s replacement, a judge of the court of common pleas, and George Merchant, the third bankruptcy commissioner, an assistant judge. In the fall election, Ten Eyck, Merchant, and Sebastian Visscher were elected aldermen in Albany, but that would not effect their eligibility (New York American Citizen, 17 Feb.; New York Chronicle Express, 14 Apr.; Albany Gazette, 25 Apr.; New-York Herald, 5 Oct. 1803; Nicholas N. Quackenbush to TJ, 8 June; Jeremiah Van Rensselaer to TJ, with Jefferson’s Note, 12 Oct.).

elisha dorr made and sold hats “as cheap as can be purchased” in New York City or Albany. They were “not inferior in colour to any imported, and more durable.” Dorr was an officer in Albany’s society of mechanics. He was a member of the Republican corresponding committee in 1803, and in 1804 he served on the general committee, led by Merchant and Visscher, in support of Lewis as the Republican candidate for governor (Albany Centinel, 12 Oct. 1802; Albany Gazette, 3 Feb., 25 Apr. 1803, 1 Mch. 1804).

TJ appointed no new bankruptcy commissioners at Albany (list of commissions in Lb in DNA: RG 59, MPTPC; Vol. 37:704, 707-11).

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