Thomas Jefferson Papers

Charles Burrall to Thomas Jefferson, 6 March 1814

From Charles Burrall

Baltimore March 6, 1814.


In consequence of the removal of Mr Granger, there will be many efforts made to remove the subordinate officers in our Dept especially where their offices are worth having, and already have individuals began to practice their insiduous arts to obtain mine—From, your personal knowledge of me, and from an opinion entertained by myself, that your sentiments have been favorable to me I have presumed Sir, to address you on this subject.—I have held my office upwards of fourteen years, and altho’ I have had various dispositions to consult, yet I believe no city postmaster has performed his duties more free from complaint, or given more general satisfaction than myself.—I am confident that if I were to solicit the real letter interest of this city, that I could obtain at least nine tenths of it, but after having served such a length of time faithfully & impartially, before I would solicit the support of the citizens individually, I would submit to removal from office, if the new Postmaster General should be disposed to treat me with so much injustice.—I can plead no party services in my behalf, nor can any be laid to my charge, I have never voted myself, or attempted to influence any mans vote since I have lived in this city, nor have I contributed a dollar to the support of any news-paper, or caused a paragraph to be inserted in any of them relative to men or measures.—

In the summer of 1812 I had a trying time here, and although I would not go thro’ the same scene again for any office within the gift of the President that I am capable of filling, yet I have the consolation of knowing that I then served Mr Madison with as much fidelity as I flatter myself, in your estimation, I heretofore served you—I believe I may say without vanity that I at that time contributed as much as any other individual to prevent his coming into collision with the riotously disposed of this City.—I send you a copy of my deposition (which I caused to be laid before the President at the time) that you may see what was my conduct on that occasion.—Should you be disposed to serve me, and feel yourself perfectly at liberty to do it, by addressing a few lines to the President in my behalf, you will confer a particular favor on me.

I am Sir with sentiments of the highest respect your Obedient Servant

Chas Burrall

RC (DLC: James Madison Papers); addressed: “The Honble Thomas Jefferson Monticello Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 11 Mar. 1814 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in TJ to Madison, 16 Mar. 1814.

Charles Burrall (ca. 1763–1836) served as a clerk at the general post office in Philadelphia in 1791, as assistant postmaster general, 1792–1800, and as postmaster of Baltimore, 1800–16. During the years 1797–99 he and TJ stayed at the same Philadelphia boardinghouse, and thereafter Burrall wrote TJ a handful of letters in his professional capacity. After leaving the postal service, he was president of the Baltimore and Reister’s-Town Road Company. Burrall remained in Baltimore until at least 1824. By 1830 he was living in Goshen, New York, where he died (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 , 33:426–7; Gazette of the United States, and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, 31 Mar. 1800; Federal Gazette & Baltimore Daily Advertiser, 20 May 1800; TJ to Madison, 16 Mar. 1814; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 7 May 1816, 9 June 1836; Executive Communication to the General Assembly of Maryland, at December Session, 1818, on the Subject of Turnpike Roads [Annapolis, 1819], 26–31; Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, 8 Oct. 1821; Matchett’s Baltimore Directory, for 1824 [Baltimore, 1824], 46; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.Y., Orange Co., 1830; New-York Spectator, 12 May 1836).

Burrall had a trying time as postmaster in August 1812 when mobs attempted to seize copies of the antiwar Federal Republican at the Baltimore post office when they arrived there from Georgetown for distribution (Donald R. Hickey, The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict [1989], 67). For the deposition, see Burrall to TJ, [7 Mar. 1814]. Burrall had his testimony laid before President Madison in January 1813 with Postmaster General Gideon Granger’s assistance (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 32 vols.  Congress. Ser., 17 vols.  Pres. Ser., 6 vols. Retirement Ser., 1 vol.  Sec. of State Ser., 8 vols. description ends , Pres. Ser., 5:575n).

Index Entries

  • Baltimore, Md.; 1812riot in search
  • Burrall, Charles; as Baltimore postmaster search
  • Burrall, Charles; identified search
  • Burrall, Charles; letters from search
  • Burrall, Charles; lives with TJ in Philadelphia search
  • Granger, Gideon; removed from office search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search