Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 11 March 1809

To William Duane

Washington Mar. 11. 09


Such has been the hurry & bustle of the close of a session of Congress & of my departure, which now takes place in an hour that I have not been able to acknolege the reciept of your letters, but I did what was essential as to the most important one. I consulted with Genl Dearborne and we concluded that the public service permitted the indulgence and the proceeding which would accomodate your own private affairs, & I presume you saw him on his passage through Philadelphia. I have also taken the necessary measures here with the proper persons, for the same purpose, and I expect you will be accomodated. you know best whether it would be adviseable for you to go into the same explanations with the new Secretary at war as he passes through your city. I sent a few days ago to mr Weightman for his account, expecting it would as usual include that for the Aurora but it did not.1 will you be so good as to forward it to me at Monticello, and hereafter send me the country Aurora only. altho’ pressed in time I cannot conclude without thanking you for the information you have usefully conveyed to me from time to time, & for the many proofs of your friendship & confidence. I carry into retirement deep seated feelings for these favors, and shall always recollect them with pleasure. wishing you every felicity & success I pray you to accept the assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Colo Wm Duane”; endorsed by TJ.

William Duane (1760–1835) was the outspoken and impecunious editor of the Philadelphia Aurora, the nation’s most influential Republican newspaper, and a leader of the party’s radical egalitarian wing. Born in what is now Vermont, he spent his early decades as a printer and journalist in Ireland, England, and India, from which he was expelled in 1795 for anti-British rhetoric. The following year Duane settled in Philadelphia with his family and soon attracted notice with a pseudonymous pamphlet critical of George Washington. Duane took over the editorship of the Aurora on the death of editor Benjamin Franklin Bache in 1798 and ran the newspaper until 1822. From 1801–07 he operated a Washington, D.C., bookstore and printed the proceedings of the United States Senate with his son William J. Duane and Roger C. Weightman, who assumed management of both in the latter year (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Bryan, National Capital description begins Wilhelmus Bogart Bryan, A History of the National Capital: From its Foundation through the Period of the Adoption of the Organic Act, 1914, 2 vols. description ends , 1:595).

Duane was appointed lieutenant colonel of riflemen on 8 July 1808 and resigned on 31 July 1810 (Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:385). In his most important letter to TJ of 4 Feb. 1809 (DLC), Duane cited his precarious finances and ongoing litigation in requesting that his printing business not be disrupted by military service distant from Philadelphia and expressing concern that the new secretary at war might not agree to such an arrangement.

1Preceding four words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Aurora (Philadelphia newspaper); and W. Duane search
  • Aurora (Philadelphia newspaper); TJ’s subscription to search
  • Bache, Benjamin Franklin (1769–1798) search
  • Dearborn, Henry; as secretary of war search
  • Duane, William; identified search
  • Duane, William; letters to search
  • Duane, William J. search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; and newspaper subscriptions search
  • newspapers; Philadelphia Aurora search
  • newspapers; subscriptions to, by TJ search
  • subscriptions, for publications; newspapers search
  • Washington, George; W. Duane’s pamphlet on search
  • Weightman, Roger Chew; and newspaper account search
  • Weightman, Roger Chew; prints Senate proceedings search