Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Woodside to Thomas Jefferson, 14 November 1812

From John Woodside

Washington City Novr 14th 1812


At the request of Mr Cathcart it has fallen to my lot to address you in his behalf, permit me therefore Sir to intrude upon your privacy. This I do Sir with a degree of confidence beleiving that in your retirement the best interests of the United States occupy your highest regards; and that nevertheless you are far from disregarding the interest of an individual private Citizen, much less that of a faithful Servant of the Public.—

The Consulate at Lisbon being vacant Mr Cathcart has made application for the appointment.

Permit me Sir on his behalf to solicit your Interest & recommendation with the President and Senate. As he has a most amiable rising family to support, your goodness Sir will indulge me with the liberty of reiterating the request for your interest, and the solicitude felt on the occasion. Owing to the change in Commercial pursuits occasioned no doubt by the War in Spain Portugal and other parts of Europe, the situation of Mr Cathcart at Madeira during his time has not afforded him a competent support for his increasing family.

Mr Cathcart so long insulated from his Country would gladly be restored to the bosom of his friends could he but find a situation if not quite so eligible as that held by Doctor B who incidentally by the Affair of the Chesapeake has fared much better than if he had proceeded without interruption to the place for which he was first appointed. But as Mr C is not soliciting for an appointment at home, yet as there are other applicants with him, he is desirous that his former services and all the circumstances connected with his present unproductive situation may be taken into consideration and have their due weight—

After suggesting that any acts of kindness done for Mr Cathcart’s family will be considered as done to one who has ever been a supporter of your and the present administrations, against Federalis[m?] so called, the consequences injurious to myself and family owing to the intolerance and injustice experienced in 1797. 8, & 9, permit me to subscribe myself—

very respectfully your Obedt Servt

Jno Woodside

RC (DLC); edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received 17 Dec. 1812 and so recorded in SJL.

John Woodside (1749–1835) served during the Revolutionary War as a second lieutenant in the 3d Pennsylvania Battalion. He was captured at Fort Washington and held as a prisoner of war, 1776–78. Woodside was appointed a clerk in the United States Treasury Department in 1785. He was a clerk in the first comptroller’s office at the Treasury from 1789 until shortly before his death. Woodside served as a sentinel for the Union Fire Company and as a trustee of the poor in Washington. His petition to Congress in 1832 for commutation of half-pay for life for his military service was still pending at his death. Woodside’s daughter Jane Bancker Woodside married James Leander Cathcart in 1798, and he subsequently promoted Cathcart’s publishing ventures, petitioned Congress on his behalf, and sold his Madeira wine to Washington residents (Heitman, Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, rev. ed., 1914 description ends , 605; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 34 vols. description ends , 34:272; Woodside to TJ, 20 Oct. 1801 [DLC]; Letter from the Treasurer of the United States [Washington, 1802], 12; Acts of the Corporation of the City of Washington, 3d Council [1805], 46; 4th Council [1806], 44; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 8:361, 26:29, 424, 27:41, 28:113, 29:664, 30:91–2 [8 June 1812, 11 Dec. 1832, 26 Feb., 11 Dec. 1833, 22 Dec. 1834, 11 Apr., 20 Dec. 1836]; City of Washington Gazette, 19 Jan. 1820; Washington Globe, 5 May 1832; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States description ends , 22:33 [18 Dec. 1832]; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 6 Mar. 1815, 4 Aug. 1835).

James Leander Cathcart (1767–1843), longtime consul of the United States, was a native of Ireland who began service as a midshipman in the Continental navy at the age of twelve. He was captured by the British and imprisoned in New York harbor in 1780, but he escaped two years later and joined the merchant service, only to be captured by Algerine pirates in 1785 and sold into slavery. Cathcart remained in captivity for eleven years, during which time he gained enough influence with the dey of Algiers that after his ransom he returned to the United States with a letter from the dey for George Washington. The latter appointed him consul to Tripoli in 1797, but relations deteriorated as the Tripolitan War neared. TJ appointed Cathcart consul at Algiers (1802) and Tunis (1803), but the rulers of both refused to receive him. He then served as consul at Madeira (1807–15) and Cádiz (1815–17), returning to the United States as naval agent in Florida (1818–20). Cathcart took a clerkship in the second comptroller’s office at the Treasury in 1823 and held it until his death. He unsuccessfully sought the Lisbon consulship in 1811 and 1812 and numerous other positions in the United States after 1817, despite assistance from Woodside, TJ, John Adams, and James Madison (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Homer L. Calkin, “James Leander Cathcart and the United States Navy,” Irish Sword 3 [1958]: 145–52; DLC: Cathcart Papers; Cathcart to TJ, [received 2 May 1805] [DLC]; Cathcart files in DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–25; 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., 3:362; Woodside to James Monroe, 13 Feb. 1813 [DNA: RG 59, MLR]; TJ to Cathcart, 10 Sept. 1821; TJ to James Barbour, 20 Jan. 1824; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 9 Oct. 1843).

John Bullus (doctor b) was a passenger on the USS Chesapeake on his way to take up a consular appointment when it was attacked in 1807. He was subsequently made United States naval agent at New York (Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and his Time, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 5:425; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:120 [7 Mar. 1809]).

Index Entries

  • Bullus, John search
  • Cathcart, James Leander; identified search
  • Cathcart, James Leander; seeks Lisbon consulate search
  • Chesapeake, USS (frigate); incident (1807) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Lisbon; U.S. consulship at search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Woodside, John; identified search
  • Woodside, John; letters from search
  • Woodside, John; seeks position for son-in-law search