Thomas Jefferson Papers

Alexander Macaulay to Thomas Jefferson, 18 March 1810

From Alexander Macaulay

City of Washington March 18: 1810


In month of October 1808, I deliver’d you, on the day after your arrival at the seat of Government, five letters, recommending me for a majority in the Light artillery; They were from Colos Duane & simonds & Messrs Rodney, Leib & Irvine—As these letters would greatly promote my present views & as they cannot be found on the files of the war office, I have taken the liberty of addressing you & requesting, that if they are now in your possession & there exists no1 impropriety in the request, you would be so good as to forward them to me at this place—I have the Honor to be with

Greatest respect sir, Your obedt Servt

A Macaulay

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); endorsed by TJ as a letter of 8 Mar. 1810 received 25 Mar. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

Alexander Macaulay (1787–1813), physician, was the son of a prosperous merchant in Yorktown. He was appointed a surgeon’s mate in the United States Army in June 1806, and before his resignation in May 1811 he saw service in Pennsylvania, Orleans Territory, and Virginia. Macaulay’s repeated attempts to secure an officer’s commission failed, even though TJ thought him “quite a well looking subject” with strong recommendations. In 1811 Macaulay sailed to what is now Venezuela and Colombia, settling first at Calabozo and moving to Bogotá early in 1812. He was convicted of assisting the forces in rebellion against Spain and executed by a royalist firing squad at Pasto (WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends , 1st ser., 12 [1903]: 31–2; Enrique Naranjo, “Alexander Macaulay, an Unknown Hero: His Family and Early Life,” Hispanic American Historical Review 25 [1945]: 528–35; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:652; TJ to Henry Dearborn, 4 Oct. 1808 [DLC]; Enrique N. Martinez, “Alexander Macaulay in the Liberation of Colombia, South America,” WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends , 2d ser., 23 [1943]: 235–48).

The five letters of recommendation, all written during the latter part of September 1808, reached TJ on 3 Oct. 1808. TJ recorded “W.” next to their SJL entries, indicating that he had forwarded them to the War Department.

1Manuscript: “to.”

Index Entries

  • Army, U.S.; light artillery search
  • Duane, William; recommends A. Macaulay search
  • Irvine, Callender search
  • Leib, Michael; recommends A. Macaulay search
  • Macaulay, Alexander; identified search
  • Macaulay, Alexander; letters from search
  • Macaulay, Alexander; seeks return of letters search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; recommends A. Macaulay search
  • Simonds, Jonas search
  • War Department, U.S.; letters of recommendation sent to search