From James Jones Wilmer
Havre de Grace, June [July] 10h 1812.
I do myself the honor of enclosing you a paper of the “Sun,” containing some matters communicated in this place, on the 4h Inst and is a conclusive correspondent, to an Address also delivered in this Town, on the 4h of last month. I did myself the honor to transmit you a copy of that work while at Baltimore; also a Copy was forwarded to the President of the U.S. who was pleased to express his approbation. With fervent aspirations for your continued felicity, I have the honor to be,
James Jones Wilmer.
RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); misdated; at foot of text: “The Honble. T. Jefferson &c”; endorsed by TJ as received 15 July 1812, with his notation that Wilmer had written June “for July,” but recorded as a letter of 10 June in SJL; with unrelated calculations by TJ on verso. Enclosure: Wilmer, “An Oration delivered in Havre de Grace, July 4th, 1812. Before Captain Courtney’s Company, on Union Green,” urging support for the War of 1812 and justifying it as an event foretold in the Bible; declaring that the conflict would determine “whether we shall exist as a great, happy, free and independent people, or sink below the dignity of man, as vassals to the tyrants and oppressors of the world”; describing the war as the will of God, who would comfort soldiers in life and death; and predicting a brief struggle that would bring lasting peace to the American republic (clipping from Baltimore Sun, 9 July 1812, in MoSHi: TJC-BC).
James Jones Wilmer (ca. 1750–1814), clergyman and author, was a Maryland native. His prominent Eastern Shore family had connections in England who took him in before he was ten and eventually sent him to Saint Paul’s School and Oxford University. In 1773 Wilmer was ordained into the Anglican clergy in England and licensed to preach in Maryland. He subsequently made several trips to England in a futile quest to obtain a presumed inheritance. Wilmer was a military chaplain during the Revolutionary War. From 1779 to 1789 he served as rector at four successive parishes in Maryland and was active in Episcopalian conferences. Early in the 1790s, however, Wilmer promoted Swedenborgianism by helping to organize the New Church Society in Baltimore and proposing that the Church of the New Jerusalem be made the established church in America. Meanwhile, he struggled to support his family as a minister, tutor, and writer. Publishing tracts and newspaper essays, Wilmer often expounded on religious and political topics and at least once denounced slavery. In 1796 he and partner William Pechin established a short-lived newspaper, the Baltimore Eagle of Freedom. About 1799 he was reinstated as an Episcopal clergyman, serving parishes in Delaware and Maryland during 1799–1800 and 1805. Wilmer occasionally corresponded with TJ, seeking his assistance in obtaining a public appointment and sending some of his publications, including Man As He Is, and the World as It Goes (Baltimore, 1803; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1676), and probably also Men and Measures, from 1774 to 1809 (Washington, 1809; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 3386), which praised TJ’s presidency. Wilmer served as chaplain of the United States Senate during its May–June 1809 session. He was appointed an army chaplain in May 1813 and traveled to the Detroit area, where he died from exposure following a shipwreck (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Wilmer, Memoirs [Baltimore, 1792]; Wilmer’s petition to the Maryland General Assembly, 17 Mar. 1777 [Md: Maryland State Papers, Black Books]; Ethan Allen, Clergy in Maryland of the Protestant Episcopal Church since the Independence of 1783 , 13; Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820, 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:229; Gazette of the United States, & Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, 22 Sept. 1796; Wilmer to TJ, 15 Sept., 7 Nov. 1803, 19 Jan. 1807 [all in DLC]; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States description ends , 4:376 [24 May 1809]; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols. Congress. Ser., 17 vols. Pres. Ser., 6 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 8 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 4:199n; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:1045; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:371, 374 [18, 23 June 1813]).
TJ did not receive the copy of Wilmer’s earlier work, An Address delivered in Havre-de-Grace, June 4, 1812: in consequence of a pamphlet set forth by a certain Nimrod Hughes, denouncing that day as the awful period of visitation to the inhabitants of this earth by the Almighty (Baltimore, 1812), and a letter of transmittal from Wilmer is not recorded in SJL and has not been found. Wilmer also forwarded the Address to James Madison from Baltimore on 13 June (TJ to Wilmer, 2 Aug. 1812; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols. Congress. Ser., 17 vols. Pres. Ser., 6 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 8 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 4:481–2n).
In the summer of 1809 Wilmer sent TJ a prospectus and subscription request for a publication he planned to entitle Facts, which was to include three of his “public communications” at the United States Capitol, supplemented with “notes explanatory, and an appropriate appendix of prominent public men and measures, from the æra of American independence to the present time.” The whole was to constitute “a free and impartial delineation of important truths, intimately connected with the welfare and prosperity of the republic,” at a cost of 75 cents in boards and $1 bound (broadside in MoSHi: TJC-BC; undated; endorsed by TJ as received 10 Aug.; recorded in SJL as a “circular” received 10 Aug. 1809). The work is not known to have been published.
- An Address delivered in Havre-de-Grace, June 4, 1812 (Wilmer) search
- Fourth of July; orations search
- Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
- subscriptions, for publications; political science search
- War of1812; orations supporting search
- Wilmer, James Jones; An Address delivered in Havre-de-Grace, June 4, 1812 search
- Wilmer, James Jones; identified search
- Wilmer, James Jones; letters from search
- Wilmer, James Jones; sends works to TJ search