Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Abel Spencer, 14 November 1803

From Abel Spencer

Westminster Novr. 14th. 1803


In pursuance of the directions given me by a Resolution of the Genel. Assembley of the State of Vermont I hearewith Transmit you an Address of Said Assembley—passed Novr. 11th. 1803. I am Sir. with Grate Respect your Obediant Humble Servt.

Abel Spencer

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “the President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 23 Nov. and so recorded in SJL with notation “coverg. address of legislat.”

Abel Spencer, who had served in the Vermont militia during the Revolutionary War, joined British forces on the approach of John Burgoyne’s army in 1777 and was later fined for treason. He represented Clarendon in the Vermont legislature from 1791 to 1797, with the exception of 1794, and served as a state attorney from 1796 to 1803. He ran as a Federalist for the Senate in October 1802, but was defeated by Israel Smith. Continuing to serve in the legislature, representing Rutland in 1802, 1803, 1806 and 1807, he was also speaker of the house in 1797, 1802, and 1803. By unanimous vote of the house, he was expelled from his seat in November 1807 for stealing bank bills from several other legislators (Lafayette Wilbur, Early History of Vermont [Jericho, Vt., 1899], 153, 350-1; John J. Duffy and others, eds., Ethan Allen and His Kin: Correspondence, 1772-1819, 2 vols. [Hanover, N.H., 1998], 2:470n).

On 9 Nov. 1803, the Vermont General Assembly voted in favor of Udney Hay’s resolution to present the president a “respectful address,” largely in response to TJ’s annual message. Hay, James Fisk, and Amos Marsh formed a committee to draft the address, which the General Assembly approved on 11 Nov. (Journals of the General Assembly of the State of Vermont, at Their Session, Begun and Holden at Westminster, in the County of Windham, on Thursday, the Thirteenth Day of October, A.D. One Thousand Eight Hundred and Three [Windsor, Vt., 1804; Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801-1819, New York, 1958-63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 7660], 241-3, 264-7).

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